In a “ground-breaking” ceremony yesterday, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) – with the generous support of the Government of Djibouti, the Government of Canada and the Government of Finland – officially launched the first phase of building a humanitarian logistics base that will improve storage and transport of humanitarian assistance across the Horn of Africa.
The new hub, which is being built in the vicinity of Djibouti port, will enable WFP and the wider humanitarian community to dispatch humanitarian assistance more quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively in the region. The port is the main gateway for food entering Ethiopia.
The Government of Djibouti graciously provided to WFP 50,000-square-meters of land for the construction of the logistics hub.
“This partnership between WFP, the Governments of Canada and Finland with the involvement of the private sector, national and international, is seen by the Government of Djibouti as positive step toward encouraging private sector engagement,” said Ilyas Mousa Dawaleh, Minister of Finance and Industry in Djibouti. The Minister further thanked the Governments of Canada and Finland for their financial support and the WFP offices in Ethiopia and Djibouti.
The Government of Canada contributed more than USD 18 Million to support the establishment of the hub on a 50,000-square-meter piece of land donated by Djibouti. Finland also contributed US$1.3 million towards the facility, which will offer silo storage capacity, allowing cost savings related to sea freight, port handling, storage and transport.
The structure, which should be completed by 2015, will eventually ease the flow of assistance not only to Ethiopia and Djibouti, but also to Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya and Somalia. About one quarter of the people that WFP assists worldwide live in the Horn of Africa.
“The Djibouti Humanitarian Logistics Hub initiative will ensure that Canada’s food assistance will reach a larger number of hunger-affected people than before,” said Julian Fantino, Canada’s Minister of International Cooperation. “This Canadian investment will improve the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of WFP and other humanitarian organizations working in the Horn of Africa.”
The new logistics hub also has an important training component in order to help the Djibouti transport sector grow. More than 120 truck and forklift drivers and 30 warehouse managers are being trained this year in Djibouti.
“This logistics hub is not only crucial for rapid humanitarian response across the Horn, it’s also an important addition to the region’s infrastructure, which in turn leads to sustainable development,” said Ramiro Lopes Da Silva, WFP Assistant Executive Director. “This capacity development undertaking benefits Djibouti not only through the reinforcement of its transport infrastructure but more importantly by the transfer of knowledge and expertise to Djiboutian professionals.”
The hub is being built and managed by WFP’s Ethiopia operation, which moves the majority of its food assistance through the Djibouti port, in partnership with the WFP Djibouti office.
In addition to the funds contributed by Canada and Finland, and the allocation of land by the Government of Djibouti, the humanitarian logistics hub is also being supported by the Caterpillar company. Caterpillar Inc., the world’s leading manufacturer of construction equipment, has provided six forklifts and two generators to the project through its global partnership with WFP.